Article by Allie Dalola, intern at the US Department of State, currently studying Business Administration and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill.
Salema (pictured in her bee suit) is passionate about beekeeping and her community. She has been keeping bees for over 10 years.
[Dar Es Salaam, November 2022] For more than 10 years, Lightness Salema has used her passion for beekeeping to alleviate poverty in Tanzania. That’s what their business, Dream Developers, is all about.
In 2011, while working at her previous job as an engineer, Salema saw a crucial opportunity to use her hobby, beekeeping, to increase crop yields and help feed the people of her country. According to a study published by Statista in 2022, around 1 in 10 Tanzanians face food instability. Salema wanted to help.
“Without bees, there is no pollination of vegetables or fruit,” she explains. “There is no food.” She started with just a few hives and a dream, then began selling the honey she produced. And so her business was born.
|Beekeeping is vital to the future of Tanzanian agriculture. Salema is pictured here with several other Tanzanian beekeepers.|
“I started my company, Dream Developers, with a vision to make various dreams come true, including my own,” explains Salema. “And my dream was to become a beekeeper.”
That dream was taken to the next level in 2019 when Salema joined the US State Department’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), which uses the DreamBuilder online learning platform developed by Arizona State University. This free, publicly available platform taught her fundamental business skills such as strategic planning, accounting and marketing.
|Salema had the opportunity to showcase their product with US Ambassador Donald Wright at the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair in July 2022.|
In addition, Salema became part of the vast AWE network of local business leaders, mentors and US Government exchange alumni who taught and inspired her with their own business experience in Tanzania.
Salema says her AWE experience “transformed” her. It increased her ability to sell honey by helping her create a recognizable brand. A grant from the US African Development Foundation, which works with AWE to provide seed money to alumnae, also helped her create packaging that appeals and stands out for shoppers.
|AWE helped Salema create eye-catching packaging and a colorful logo for their honey.|
“When people see my honey, they say it’s good before they’ve even tasted it,” she explains. “It sells itself!”
After completing the AWE program, Salema was as busy as a bee – using her business to help others in the community. She identified an opportunity for Dream Developers to empower other women in rural mining communities with the skills and resources they needed to generate an additional income stream.
“I train them and give them some hives,” Salema explains. “This way they can start beekeeping as an alternative source of income for their families.”
So far she has trained women from three rural regions across Tanzania in the art of beekeeping. In the years to come, these women will have the opportunity to sell the honey they produce to Dream Developers for a steady income. Salema hopes to empower 1000 Tanzanian women to become beekeepers and find their own sweet success in the next few years.
“Keeping bees is like preserving human life,” she explains. “And we get the product honey from a good deed!”
|US Ambassador Donald Wright congratulates the members of the AWE Graduating Class of 2022 in Tanzania, which saw nearly 150 women participate in AWE.|
Salema will showcase her company November 7-11, 2022 at the annual Woman Impact Summit, a global virtual summit celebrating women entrepreneurs around the world. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to network with other women entrepreneurs and share how AWE empowered them to make a difference in Tanzania.
The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs was launched in 2019 by the US Department of State in partnership with the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. Since then, AWE has provided an estimated 25,000 women in 100 countries with the knowledge, networks and access they need to start and scale successful businesses. AWE has been operating in Tanzania since 2019 and has empowered nearly 150 women entrepreneurs like Salema.
For more information about AWE, visit: https://eca.state.gov/awe.